The U.S. women's gymnastic team, a favorite to win gold at the 2012 Olympics in London, did exactly that on Tuesday evening, beating former champions and powers from Russia, Romania and China, by an almost unheard-of victory margin of 5.066 points. They were simply dominant: It was the first gold medal in gymnastics for the American women since the 1996, when the Magnificent Seven captured the top spot with a heroic vault from an injured Kerri Strug.
So which of these possible angles did NBC blog writer Stacey Nash choose to address? The answer would be E) None of the above.
"What's better: Gold medals or a shout-out from the Biebs?"
The cringe-worthy headline is slightly qualified by the lede statement, but not by much:
"If you're 17 years old, what feels better -- winning an Olympic gold medal? Or receiving a personal shout-out from Justin Bieber?"
Okay, I get it. The news is somewhat relevant since the gymnastic team are fans of Bieber's, and he congratulated them. But the headline, oh dear God, the headline.
The question itself may be relevant to the article, but outside the article, the headline looks absolutely imbecilic. Even if you are a blog writer, here you are, working for one of the most prestigious broadcast news networks in America, one that has exclusive coverage of the 2012 Olympics. And with all of your power and all of the videos at your fingertips, you decide to write a story about Justin Bieber tweeting at the U.S. women's gymnastics team. O. M. G.
NBC, whether it wants to be or not, is essentially representing the American media at the Olympics. And with stories like these, the network is making us all look like assholes.
NBC is the only American broadcast distributor for the London 2012 Olympics, and despite its efforts to bring high-production value to its Olympic coverage, it continues to receive significant criticism for its Olympics coverage. Now, any time NBC slips up, viewers go to Twitter and note their criticisms with the hashtag, #NBCFail.
There are several criticisms: Viewers believe the network gives the American teams too much attention when there are better games with other countries being played simultaneously. The biggest, most obvious #NBCFail occurred when NBC failed to show the tragic and symbolic dedication to the victims of London's 7/7 bombings during the Olympics' Opening Ceremonies, replacing it with an interview with Ryan Seacrest and Michael Phelps. But the most recent #NBCFail occurred just this past weekend, when Twitter and NBC Sports shut down the Twitter account of journalist Guy Adams of The Independent after he tweeted out the president of NBC's corporate email address.
From tech guy from Clifton Park, @billswallow: "Sticking to Twitter, official Olympic apps, and other online media for coverage. I can't stomach NBC anymore. "
Even other news companies and networks are getting in on the NBC bash-fest.
#NBCFail continues to grow every single day, especially during this weeks-long Olympics coverage, but the company is not helping itself when it continues to write articles that simply pale in comparison and scope to other Olympics coverage out there, especially from BBC, the main network of this Olympics' host country.
NBC needs to do better, and it still can turn it around. But even if the network is looking to attract audiences, writing fluff about the gymnastics' team screaming about a Justin Bieber tweet doesn't make the Olympics feel as important as they should be. The piece is especially flagrant since Nash neglected to mention the historical implications of the American women winning the event; there was absolutely no context to the news story, besides a quick mention that the team won gold.
NBC's blogger didn't explain why these young women's emotions were so high to begin with. She didn't explain what they overcame, how they accomplished their victory. I won't either -- that's not what this story's about -- but if NBC is really going to compare getting a gold medal to getting tweeted at by Justin Bieber, maybe they should explain a little more about what it's like to win a gold medal.